Forget about Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. Although the quarterbacks were selected in the top two spots of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns may have just committed highway robbery on the whole league.
On Friday, the Browns selected USC’s Cody Kessler in round three. The pick is risky. The pick is sneaky. The pick may also be the quarterback Browns’ fans have been looking for their entire lives. Coming into the NFL, Kessler is everything Johnny Manziel isn’t. Yet, Kessler hasn’t received the love from NFL scouts and pundits around the league.
Soon after Kessler was drafted, CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco crushed the selection on Twitter. Prisco gave the draft pick a D grade and attributed the pick to the Hugh Jackson connection to USC.
Coach Jackson was so proud of the pick, he was confident in telling the football world why Kessler was selected over more hyped quarterbacks. Here is Jackson’s excerpt from the Cleveland Browns Website.
“Because this guy, young man has pinpoint accuracy. [He had] 88 touchdowns, 19 interceptions over three years. Tremendous, tremendous touchdown-interception ratio, knows how to play in a pro style offense, has a lot of characteristics that we look for in a quarterback. He has great poise, pocket presence, works at the game, comes early, stays late. He is everything that I think you look for in a quarterback. Doing a lot of work on him, it showed that way. At the end of the day, this is a young man who is on our football team. Very excited about him.”
If you ever watched him play at USC, you might agree with that assessment. However, one of the reasons why Kessler wasn’t at the top of the draft boards is due to non football related issues. Basically, Kessler didn’t have the “perfect measurables” as a first round QB. However, his ability to play the game is on a Pro Bowl level.
“The guy has had a tremendous career. I understand where everybody is coming from, but you’ve got to trust me on this one. This is a guy that we feel very comfortable with, and we think he’s going to have an opportunity to ascend.”
NFLDraftscout.com ranked Kessler as the 13th best quarterback in the NFL Draft. He was projected to be a seventh round pick or a free agent until the Browns had the foresight to draft the pinpoint passer.
Kessler throws passes that a very easy to catch. He moves the ball with an elite point guard’s precision. He completed 67.5 percent of his passes last season, but his 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions were overlooked. It’s probably because Kessler destroyed defenses as a junior. He amassed 39 touchdowns and five interceptions, while completing over 69 percent of his passes. Yet, Kessler wasn’t considered a legitimate NFL quarterback prospect.
In addition to joining the new-look Browns, Kessler doesn’t have the pressure of becoming the starting QB immediately. With Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown and Connor Shaw on the Browns’ depth chart, the coaching staff can ease him into the program. Yet, he may have an impression on the coaches like Russell Wilson did as a rookie.